Jeff Hamada for Converse 1HUND(RED)

That’s right, yours truly got to make a Chuck Taylor for the Converse 1HUND(RED) project! Converse commissioned 100 musicians, graphic and graffiti artists from all over the world to create one-of-a-kind sneaker designs inspired by the global fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. Here’s a few sneak peeks at the shoe, it’ll be out at select shops later this year!

Excerpts from the questionnaire I filled out for Converse:

How did you come up with your 1HUND(RED) design–what was your inspiration?
When I was contacted about the project I immediately started to sketch out some ideas, and I kept drawing hands. Hands reaching out, reaching up. I just had this image of all these hands. It wasn’t like I went and read books and researched for the project (which I often do), this was more of a gut reaction, like the first thing that popped into my mind.

How does your design relate to the theme of 1HUND(RED)? Or to issues of AIDS?
Well first of all, there are 100 hands on the shoe. I guess it’s like a safety net solution for relating any imagery to the project. I could very well have drawn 100 toe nail clippers on the shoe in that sense. But I think the hands are very much related to the issues at the heart of this project. I wanted the imagery to be seen from two points of view – As the hands of the world reaching out to help Africa, and also as the hands of all the people in Africa reaching up for help. I wanted there to be a variety of shades of skin color to represent this idea, and the little bits of blue are there to kind of represent a hopeful point of view about the struggle that is going on over there.

What do you want people to take away from your shoe design in terms of (PRODUCT) RED? But also in terms of trying to help people?
I have this picture of a large group of people stuck in this deep hole in the ground and they’re all desperately calling for help. Meanwhile, above them, there’s all these other people walking around carrying these huge ladders. Some are even carrying three or four ladders at once! There is such an abundance of ladders that people are actually piling them up and setting fire to them, just to get rid of them. As the voices of those trapped in the holes get louder the fires just continue to burn. I guess the message of my shoe isn’t just about Africa, it’s common sense, it’s day to day, it’s everyday. I think it’s your duty as a human being to help those in need.

Can creativity make people care? How/why?
I think it can but not on its own. Creativity alone, while it is a great vehicle for spreading a message, can still be ignored. I think TRUTH is the only the thing that can’t be ignored (at least not forever). If there is truth in the message and it is creatively presented so that people can actually understand it, then it has the ability to make people care.

It was an honor to work with the great people at Converse!